This original Old Gold Cigarettes commissioned advertising painting appeared in print in 1939 under the title “Wa-Ta-Hun-Ee!”. That year George Petty created a full years worth of Old Gold Petty girls for the ad agency Lennen & Mitchell, creating continued interest in the Old Gold Brand with the monthly appearance of his deliriously successful pin-up creations. Esquire Magazine readers wrote to the magazine complaining that these Old Girl Cigarette girls eclipsed the pinups Petty created for the magazine itself, which tended to be more streamlined and less fanciful. This tension spelled the end for Petty and Esquire–in 1940 Alberto Vargas was brought on as his immediate heir apparent.
This large, mixed media painting was housed in the boardroom at Lennen & Mitchell for several decades. It was the firms favorite image from the Old Gold campaign. In the scene, a sexy Indian Maiden takes aim with quiver and bow in what has surely become one of the more iconic works by this great artist and illustrator.
This original signed George Petty illustration is handsomely matted and framed behind glass, the white background includes the unique airbrush over-painting technique Petty employed. Under black light the background does not fluoresce and appears as created in 1939. The pink and purple hues in the beadwork on the maiden’s skirt and arm sash have faded as is typical on Petty works. These colors have been identified as “fugitive colors” in these works – meaning precisely that they had a tendency to disappear as time went on. A rare original 12 page Old Gold Petty Girl Calendar printed in 1940 is included in the sale, featuring “Wa-Ta-Hun-Ee!” as the March pin-up image. Many of the colors on all 12 of this printed calendar images have been photo-mechanically “punched up” in palette as was common practice at that time in the printing industry. Views of the central Indian Maiden appeared in various print usages with varying backgrounds that were created photo mechanically as needed in this long running advertising campaign. One of these variations can be seen below.